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May 21, 2010

BP Unfiltered

This Week in Minor League History: May 17 - May 23

by Geoff Young

Welcome to the latest edition of TWiMiLH (it's pronounced Shar-day), where we plow through Johnson and Wolff's Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball to bring you the week that was...

May 17

1947: Paul Bruno, manager/first baseman/pitcher (adventurer/surgeon/rock musician?) made three relief appearances in the same game, "returning to first base when not on the mound." Bruno would win the Evangeline League's pitching triple crown that year (25 W, 1.96 ERA, 260 K) while being named to the All-Star team as a first baseman.

1959: Aberdeen Pheasants left-hander Steve Dalkowski no-hit the Grand Forks Chiefs. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract identifies Dalkowski as the hardest throwing pitcher of the 1950s, and his former catcher, Andy Etchebarren, will second the motion.

1973: While pitching for the Arkansas Travelers, right-hander John Denny no-hit the Midland Cubs. Denny finished the season 10-6 with a 3.12 ERA. He went on to enjoy a fine big-league career (123-108, 3.59 ERA) that included a freakish 1983 campaign in which he won the National League Cy Young Award while with the Phillies.

1994: Inigo Montano of the Monclova Acereros no-hit the Monterrey Industriales. Inconceivable!

May 18

1938: Right-hander Virgil Trucks of the Andalusia Bulldgos no-hit the Evergreen Greenies. Trucks fanned 19 batters and recorded the game's only hit, a ninth-inning single (he later came around to score the game's only run) off tough-luck loser Francis Manheim. Trucks won the Alabama-Florida League triple crown, going 25-6 with a 1.25 ERA and an obscene 418 strikeouts in 273 innings. Trucks went on to win 177 big-league games (including two no-hitters in 1952 as a member of the Detroit Tigers). He is ranked the 61st best pitcher of all time in TNBJHBA.

May 20

1910: The Eastern League played no games due to the funeral of King Edward VII. From the "Annual Report of the Corporation of the Chamber of Commerce, of the State of New York" come these remarks, courtesy of the Honorable Courtenay W. Bennett:

There was a little notice in the New York papers of the 21st of May under the heading of "Baseball News," and, if I mistake not, the little advertisement ran in the following words: "Eastern League. All games postponed on account of the King's funeral." I think that alone shows how deeply the King's death was felt, because that was the expression of the people, not of the government classes or of the merchants, but of the people. When I reported to the government on the circumstances connected with the King's death, I took great pleasure in drawing special attention to that little advertisement, pointing out that I thought it was one of the most touching tributes which I had heard of.

Bennett, who served as British Consul General and head of British naval intelligence in the United States, was close. The notice appeared on page 11 of the New York Times and read, "No games played on account of the funeral of the late King Edward."

1932: The Wichita Falls Spudders of the Texas League moved to Longview and changed their name to Cannibals. The switch didn't help, as the team went 16-19 as the Spudders and 53-64 as the Cannibals. I can neither confirm nor deny that humans taste like potatoes.

1982: Ron Kittle of the Edmonton Trappers hit his 20th homer of the season in his team's 34th game. He would hit "only" 30 more in the final 110 games en route to being named Minor League Player of the Year by both The Sporting News and Baseball America. Kittle followed up that performance with a .254/.314/.504 campaign for the Chicago White Sox in 1983, good enough for American League Rookie of the Year honors. Kittle spent 10 seasons in the big leagues, hitting .239/.306/.473, with 176 home runs. He later became good pals with Barry Bonds.

1985: In a game against the Visalia Oaks, Modesto's Bob Loscalzo hit for the cycle. So did his teammate, Kevin Stock. Neither player reached the big leagues, although Modesto's third baseman enjoyed some success. You may have heard the name Mark McGwire.

May 21

1925: The Ft. Worth Panthers beat the San Antonio Bears, 24-12. The Panthers had won the first two games of the series by scores of 19-8 and 29-9. By the third day, folks had gotten a bit testy: "The fans, angered by the ejection of the San Antonio shortstop, swarmed onto the field in the fifth inning. Police were needed to escort the umpires to their hotel." Ah, the good ol' days. Things were so much better then.

May 22

1909: Left-hander Hippo Vaughn of the Macon Peaches no-hit the Columbia Gamecocks. He would go on to win 178 big-league games, mostly for the Cubs thanks to an awful trade. TNBJHBA ranks Vaughn as the 96th best pitcher in history.

1918: "Miss Gladys Palmer of the University of Wisconsin set a record for women by throwing a baseball 215 feet 11 inches." I don't know what that has to do with the minor leagues, but it's in the book, so there you go.

May 23

1943: Scranton Red Sox southpaw Chet Covington spun a perfect game against the Springfield Rifles. According to the Encyclopedia, "only four balls were hit to the outfield." Covington, age 28, would win the Eastern League triple crown (21 W, 1.51 ERA, 187 K) and be named The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year.

1951: Ft. Worth Cats right-hander Rex Barney issued seven walks in 1 2/3 innings, bringing his total to 30 walks in 12 1/3 innings. He had been assigned to Ft. Worth by the Brooklyn Dodgers "to gain control" after an ugly 1950 campaign. Although Barney never found his control, he did win 35 big-league games and later gained fame as the public address announcer for the Baltimore Orioles from 1974 to 1997.

* * *

That's all for this week. Enjoy...

1 comment has been left for this article.

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